chapter  5
15 Pages

Ritual, public space and indigenous engagement in colonial Cuzco

WithGabriela Ramos

Peruvians refer to Cuzco as 'the imperial city' to emphasize its prestigious status as the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. The first Spanish conquistadors to arrive in Cuzco in 1533 noted that Coricancha was not only richly decorated but also sheltered the mummified remains of Inca sovereigns. After their arrival in the sixteenth century, the Spanish heavily intervened in the public spaces of Cuzco. Several colonial sources and scholarly works reveal that the conceptualization and use of sacred space was an enduring matter of dispute in the colonial Andes, with events in Cuzco providing a prime example. The examination of accounts – visual and textual – of ceremonial life in early colonial Peru will allow us to draw some conclusions about how indigenous engagement with, and exclusion from, colonial rituals operated. Christianizing the Andean sacred landscape was a complex affair, and indigenous engagement with Catholic ritual was a process in the making.